BARLOW, WILLIAM (1499?-1568), bishop

Name: William Barlow
Date of birth: 1499?
Date of death: 1568
Parent: Christian Barlow
Parent: John Barlow
Gender: Male
Occupation: bishop
Area of activity: Religion
Author: Glanmor Williams

Born in Essex, the son of John and Christian Barlow; he became an Austin canon at S. Osyth's, Essex, and at Oxford, where he is said to have become D.D. After being prior of three small houses, Blackmore, Tiptree, and Lees, he became prior of Bromehill in 1524, until its dissolution by Wolsey in 1528. His career, 1528-34, is obscure. He may have been a diplomat in royal service. Or, possibly, he is to be identified with Jerome Barlow, author of The Burial of the Mass, A Dialogue between a Gentleman and a Husbandman, and other antipapist pamphlets, though he recanted, and published in 1531 a Dialogue … of These Lutheran Factions (second edition, 1553), an anti-Lutheran pamphlet.

Through Anne Boleyn's patronage, he became prior of Haverfordwest in 1534, and while there complained bitterly to Cromwell of local antagonism to reform. He was moved to Bisham in 1535, and sent to Scotland as a royal envoy. He was elected bishop of St Asaph in January 1536, but was translated to S. Davids forthwith. There is no record of his consecration. He quarrelled violently with his chapter on matters of faith and discipline. He failed to remove the see to Carmarthen or to establish a grammar school there; but succeeded in founding Christ College, Brecon, in 1542. He conveyed the valuable manor of Lamphey to the king, who in turn conferred it upon Sir Richard Devereux.

Barlow was translated to Bath and Wells in 1548, and 'resigned' in 1553. After being twice imprisoned for trying to escape, he fled to the Continent early in 1555, and remained in Germany and Poland until 1558. He was one of those who consecrated Parker, and became bishop of Chichester, where he died in August 1568. The date was correctly given in the 1st edition of D.N.B., for there is a letter (Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, 1547-8, 314) from Barlow's son-in-law to Cecil, dated August 1568, informing him of the bishop's death. Later, the D.N.B., erroneously following Fuller and others (and in spite of Cooper's warning in Athenae Cantabrigienses), adopted a later date. He left two sons, and five daughters, all of whom were married to bishops.


His brother, founded the famous family of Slebech. He was a merchant and discoverer of note. In 1546 he and his brother, THOMAS BARLOW, rector of Catfield, Norfolk, bought the lands of the preceptory of Slebech and the priory of Haverfordwest, and the house of the Black Friars there. Roger Barlow afterwards became a justice of the peace and a vice-admiral within the shire.


Another brother, who graduated M.A. at Oxford in 1521, and who later became a diplomat. He was made archdeacon of Westbury-on-Trym, and afterwards dean of Worcester. He was very active in South Wales, particularly when William Barlow was bishop of S. Davids.



Published date: 1959

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